Nadal Edges Gasquet For Basel Final Berth
Rafael Nadal's mettle was put to the test on Saturday at the Swiss Indoors Basel, and the third seed survived a valiant effort from Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6(7).
With the win, Nadal pulled level with Pete Sampras for ninth place on the Open Era tour-level match wins list, with 762 victories. He is now just 12 behind Ilie Nastase for No. 8.
Both players turned in a spectaular shotmaking exhibition and it was the Frenchman who held the upper hand in the early stages of both sets. Gasquet raced to a 4-2 lead behind an immediate break of serve, but it was Nadal who wrestled the momentum back in his favour, reeling off the next four games to close out the opener on his third set point.
Watch: 'Nadal at his very best!' Incredible forehand pass from the Spaniard in Basel. #ATP https://t.co/PmbsEJE279— TennisTV (@TennisTV) October 31, 2015
The second set followed a similar script, with Gasquet once again breaking in the first game - on his seventh break point - and consolidating for 2-0. The World No. 11 served for a decider at 5-4 but was broken to 15 and would eventually succumb in the ensuing tie-break. Nadal misfired on three straight forehands to put the set on Gasquet's racquet at 6-4, but the Spaniard dug in his heels, claiming five of the last six points to emerge after two hours and five minutes. He fired 31 winners and converted on three of eight break opportunities.
"I'm happy with the victory," said Nadal. "It was a great match, a beautiful one I think. Both players played very good points. We played well and it was close. I'm very happy. It's an important week for me.
"It's better if you don't have to come back, but it's about believing to come back and being well mentally all the time. In generally I've been playing good tennis and today was a good match."
Nadal's victory eliminates Gasquet from Barclays ATP World Tour Finals contention, solidifying the eight-man field that will feature at The O2 in London in three weeks. Kei Nishikori and David Ferrer join Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych.
The Spaniard improved to 14-0 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry against Gasquet, advancing to his 98th tour-level final. Nadal will look to add to titles on the clay of Buenos Aires and Hamburg and the lawns of Stuttgart in 2015 when he faces Roger Federer in Sunday's Basel final.